US ‘Not Advocating’ Interim Govt in Afghanistan; Key Negotiators Not in Doha for 2nd Round

President Ashraf Ghani refrained from meeting Khalilzad during his recent tour.

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad discussed the prospect of an interim government in Afghanistan as a result of the peace process, said sources close to the Afghan politicians who recently met Khalilzad.

According to the sources familiar with the process, Khalilzad in his meetings with the Afghan politicians apparently talked about three options: First, the continuation of the present government and the inclusion of the Taliban in the govt. Second, the inclusion of the government in the structure of a Taliban-led government. Third, the option to establish an interim and inclusive government.

According to the sources, the Afghan political leaders reportedly told Khalilzad that the establishment of an interim government was the appropriate option to end the war in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad arrived in Kabul last week and met with senior Afghan political leaders including Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation, former President Hamid Karzai, former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib.

“Three options were discussed. The first one is to include the Taliban into the present government, the second option is to merge this government with the Taliban, but both of these options aren’t acceptable for the international community. The third option was to establish an interim and inclusive government,” said Gul Rahman Qazi, a close aide to former president Hamid Karzai.

“Some issues were being discussed between Mr. Khalilzad and the Afghan political leaders about the future government,” said Mirwais Ghiyasi, a close aide to Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf.

“The interim government issue has been raised at a time as we transform from a system-less government to a state where there is a system,” said Sarwar Danish, the Afghan Second Vice President.

President Ashraf Ghani refrained from meeting Khalilzad during his recent tour.

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday, referring to the recent rumors about the establishment of an interim government as an outcome of a peace process with the Taliban, said that the Afghan people do not support the dissolution of democracy and that his main duty as president is to peacefully transfer the power to his successor according to the law.

Speaking a public gathering in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, Ghani said that the present political system needs to be protected and the power must be transferred peacefully and legally.

“This seat is not mine, this seat (presidency) belongs to the nation of Afghanistan, this system has dignity, you all voted for me,” said Ghani.

“If the objective of the Taliban is to dominate and give us the peace of the grave, that will have very negative consequences,” Ghani said.

“My basic goal is to be able to hand power, through the will of the people, to my elected successor. This is crucial to enable us to honor the sacrifice of our civilians, our activists, and others,” Ghani said. “One thing needs to be clear; the Afghan society is not willing to go back and we’re not a type of society that the Taliban-type approach of the past can be imposed on us. That was the peace of the graveyard. We want a positive peace where all of us together overcome our past, embrace each other and together rebuild an Afghanistan that can be what I call a roundabout (regional hub).”

Rumors about the interim government were also debated in a session of the Meshrano Jirga.

“The Interim government is just an imagination, interim government is recommended by those who have remained out of power,” said Akbar Stanekzai, a member of the senate.

“The interim government is something that will be addressed by the Afghan people and the decision of the Afghan people and their views,” said Gulalai Akbari, a senator.

The Taliban have so far not announced their official position about the establishment of an interim government in Afghanistan. However, the group in the past has said that the talks on the future government will be among their top priorities during the talks.

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This comes as violence continues to rage across Afghanistan, with dozens of military personnel and civilians killed and wounded.

A week has passed since negotiators from both sides of the Afghan peace negotiations announced the resumption of the second round of intra-Afghan talks in Doha; however, some members of their teams have not returned to Doha.

Mawlavi Abdul Hakim, the Taliban’s chief negotiator and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, have also not returned to Doha from Pakistan.

Reacting to the issue, lawmakers in Afghanistan’s parliament on Tuesday said that members of the negotiating teams should not put their personal interests ahead of national interests.

Abdul Matin Bek, Nader Nadery, Fatima Gailani, Fawzia Koofi are the members of the peace negotiating team from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan who have not returned to Doha.

“They should put their personal issues aside and instead focus on the peace process, because we are at a critical stage,” said Shafiqullah, a resident in Kabul.

“They must prioritize the peace process and think about their people, because every single day our people are being killed in explosions and suicide attacks,” said Iqbal, a resident of Kabul.

Based on the information received by TOLOnews, some members of the peace negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are staying with their families abroad.

“Everyday there is killing, bloodshed and explosions, if the members of the peace teams do not return to Doha, this creates distrust among the people,” said MP Iqbal Safai.

“We expect them to expedite the peace process so that the people can live in peace,” said Hamida Ahmadzai, a MP.

What do the absent members say?

“The talks are carried out in small contact groups,  some of our colleagues have been tasked with coordinating the contact group meetings to move forward with the preliminary discussions, some other members who have not returned due to some personal issues will return soon,” said Fawzia Koofi, a member of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

“At this stage of the negotiations, the talks will focus on the agenda,” said Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the State Ministry on Peace Affairs.

This comes as violence continues to rage across Afghanistan, with dozens of military personnel and civilians killed and wounded.

US ‘Not Advocating’ Interim Govt in Afghanistan; Key Negotiators Not in Doha for 2nd Round